60th Anniversary of the Antarctic Treaty

On December 1st 1969 New Zealand signed the Antarctic Treaty with the primary aim that Antarctica is to be used exclusively for science and other peaceful purposes. The NZ Antarctic Society is marking the 50th anniversary with the launch of a new map of Antarctica at the National Library of New Zealand on the 21st of November and an exhibition of previous maps. If you are visiting the “Mapping Antarctica – the frozen continent revealed” three week mini-exhibition at the National Library here at He Matapihi Molesworth Library, our Wellington City Libraries branch inside the National Library, we are pleased to put on display these titles and others featuring Antarctica and the New Zealanders associated with this region from our He Matapihi collection.


A wise adventure. II, New Zealand and Antarctica after 1960 / Templeton, Malcolm
Since the adoption of the Antarctic Treaty in 1959, Antarctica has been governed through a unique system of international collaboration.  This book is an important chronicle of New Zealand’s engagement in Antarctica and a detailed and fascinating window on the complex negotiations arounf governance in this remarkable part of the planet. (Back cover abridged)

Mapping Antarctica : a five hundred year record of discovery / Clancy, Robert
“This volume tells the story of Antarctica through original maps.  These maps, many very rare, have been re-produced in high resolution and represent all major events, from the discovery and exploration of Antarctica to the scientific exploration of glaciers. This volume tells the story of Antarctica through original maps. These maps, many very rare, have been re-produced in high resolution and represent all major events, from the discovery and exploration of Antarctica to the scientific exploration of glaciers.” (Catalogue)

Antarctic Tragedy

We can’t talk about Antarctica without mentioning the Erebus disaster.  New Zealanders have a long relationship and fascination with Antarctica.  Air New Zealand started running sightseeing flights to Antarctica in February 1977 and between 1977 and 1979 they had carried approximately 10,000 passengers to Antarctica. This month we especially remember as we approach the 40th anniversary of the tragic scenic flight that crashed into Mount Erebus becoming our worst air disaster. November 28th 1979 was a dark day in New Zealand’s history and part of the national psyche for most New Zealanders. At the time there were only one or two degrees of separation with so many either knowing a victim of the Erebus disaster or knowing people that knew them. This year there is a new publication Toward the mountain: a story of grief and hope forty years on from Erebus written by one of the affected families.

Towards the mountain: a story of grief and hope forty years on from Erebus / Myles, Sarah
“Marking the 40th anniversary of the Erebus disaster, this is the first book on that tragedy written by one of the affected families.” (Catalogue)

Daughters of Erebus / Holmes, Paul
“The technical side of what happened on Mt Erebus on that fateful November day back in 1979 has been brilliantly explained by Justice Mahon, the Royal Commissioner appointed to investigate the crash of the Air New Zealand DC 10. Daughters of Erebus is the story of five people who were left behind and how the whole tragedy affected their lives.  This is a New Zealand story told by one of the great New Zealand storytellers. It literally drips with pathos and is a must-read story.” (Catalogue)

Our fascination  with Antarctica

Our library collection reflects our fascination with Antarctica.  For further points of interest, we feature heroic exploits of New Zealand explorers, photographic studies of nature and the relics of early exploration, scientific expeditions, works of fiction and children’s non-fiction all, of course, featuring Antarctica.

Sir Edmund Hillary : an extraordinary life / Johnston, Alexa
“Around the world Sir Edmund Hillary is a legendary figure – climber, bold adventurer, practical philanthropist and one of the most widely respected persons of our time. He has survived extremes of human experience – from historic triumphs to crushing personal loss ? but he sees himself as an ordinary man, persistent rather than heroic. This lavishly illustrated book focuses on the highlights of his life, including: Conquering Everest; Journeying to the South Pole by tractor; Himalayan adventures; Philanthropist to the Sherpa people. This beautiful book is profusely illustrated, using fascinating material, such as letters, cards, diary pages, and ephemera, from his personal archive. It is a magnificent tribute to one of the greatest climbers and explorers of all time.” (Catalogue)

Frank Worsley: Shackleton’s fearless captain / Thomson, John
“This book is a biography of Frank Worsley, without doubt one of New Zealand’s greatest, but largely unsung adventuring heroes. Born in Akaroa he went to sea as a teenager in 1888 on the sailing ships plying their trade between New Zealand and England. But the greatest adventure of his life began when he became the captain of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance, which was trapped in pack ice on the 1914-1916 Antarctic expedition and slowly crushed. The crew of 28 spent over a year camped on the Antarctic ice before Shackleton, Worsley and four others sailed a tiny lifeboat across the wild Southern Ocean to South Georgia to summon help for the rest of the men, who were all eventually rescued.” (Catalogue)

With Hillary at Scott Base: a Kiwi among the penguins / Gerard, V. B. This account of the early days at the New Zealand Antarctic Base, known as Scott Base, was first written over half a century ago from the author’s diary and memory. The book is about the establishment of the base. (Back Cover abridged)

Still life : inside the Antarctic huts of Scott and Shackleton / Ussher, Jane
“A magnificent, hauntingly beautiful photographic study of the Antarctic huts that served as expedition bases for explorations led by Captain Robert Falcon Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton the turn of the 20th century Antarctic explorers set off from their huts in search of adventure, science, and glory, while the huts were left as time capsules of Edwardian life. The executive director of the Trust provides a fascinating introduction to the history and atmosphere of each hut and detailed photographic captions. Diary excerpts from the explorers bring their time in the huts to life.” (Catalogue)

Post marks : the way we were : early New Zealand postcards, 1897-1922 / Haks, Leo
“The way we were between 1897-1922 is revealed in more than 500 postcards that highlight New Zealand’s pioneer beginnings and the development of a unique cultural identity.” (Catalogue)

White silence : Grahame Sydney’s Antarctica. / Sydney, Grahame
“This outstanding collection of photographs from one of New Zealand’s most pre-eminent artists, Grahame Sydney, pays homage to the Antarctic landscape. At the invitation of Antarctica New Zealand, Sydney travelled to Antarctica in November-December 2003, and again in October 2006. His photographs reveal an extraordinary terrain that is solemn, sparse and poised with a magnificent stillness. Exploring a continent that appears at first glance to be devoid of colour, warmth or comfort, each image celebrates the rare flashes of astonishing beauty that can be found in the bleakest, most inhospitable region of Earth.” (Catalogue)

Fifteen million years in Antarctica / Priestley, Rebecca
“Rebecca Priestley longs to be in Antarctica. But it is also the last place on Earth she wants to go. In 2011 Priestley visited the wide white continent for the first time, on a trip that coincided with the centenary of Robert Falcon Scott’s fateful trek to the South Pole. For Priestley, 2011 was the fulfilment of a dream that took root in a childhood full of books, art and science and grew stronger during her time as a geology student in the 1980s. Priestley reflects on what Antarctica can tell us about Earth’s future and asks: do people even belong in this fragile, otherworldly place?” (Catalogue)

Call of the ice : fifty years of New Zealand in Antarctica / Harrowfield, David L.
“This book is a celebration not only of Antarctica, and more specifically the Ross Sea region, but also of the many men and women who have contributed to our understanding of this unique environment and its impact on our world.” (Catalogue)

Innocents in the Dry Valleys : an account of the Victoria University of Wellington Antarctic Expedition, 1958-59 / Bull, Colin
“In 1958-59 a physicist, a biologist and two undergraduate geology students from Victoria University of Wellington spent a summer examining the Dry Valleys of Victoria Land, Antarctica. This expedition, known as VUWAE 2, began what was to become an annual and very fruitful Antarctic research programme for the university over the next fifty years. With wry humour, Bull recounts the adventures of these four hardy and resourceful scientists, who seemed to thrive on the adverse conditions, lack of funding and battles with bureaucracy.” (Catalogue)

Melt / Murray, Jeff
“This novel is an urgent, crushing observation of adaptation and exclusion amidst preparation to settle Antarctica as climate destruction starts to bite. New Zealand in 2048, gateway to the melting continent, is thrust into the centre of the climate crises. Vai Shuster, the Advocate of a tiny, broken island, must find a place for her community in a world that’s not sure it needs the poor.” (Catalogue)

Antarctic journeys / Werry, Philippa
“Antarctica is a fascinating place: it has no native inhabitants, and it’s very remote, which means everyone who goes there today or in the past has a special reason for wanting to go. It’s a place that children can only imagine, because they can’t go there. This book is about the journeys (historic and contemporary, human and animal, large and small) that centre around Antarctica, using that theme to build up an overall picture of Antarctic history, geography, science and wildlife.” (Catalogue)

Eavesdropping Underwater: an Interview with Olivia Price!

Why do scientists eavesdrop on whales and dolphins? What can recordings of whale and dolphin sounds tell us? How do you even record the sound that these creatures make? And what’s it like to go to Antarctica?

Join us on Saturday, May 25 at Te Papa for a FREE talk by NIWA scientists Dr Giacomo Giorli and Olivia Price to hear the answers!

As part of the build-up to Eavesdropping Underwater, we interviewed Olivia Price about her role as a Marine Physics Technician for NIWA.

Can you tell us a bit about your role at NIWA?

I work within a team of physical oceanography technicians to maintain, deploy and recover science equipment that records information about our oceans’ physical properties (i.e. temperature, salinity, oxygen). These properties can tell us a lot about ocean currents and features which provide food and the right kind of conditions for marine life to thrive.

You’re a Qualified PADI Dive Master. What does that entail? How deep have you dived?

I started with a PADI Open Water course in 2014 and have been hooked ever since! A Divemaster certification allows me to act as an assistant to a Dive Instructor and has taught me rescue diving skills. My Divemaster assessment was in Milford Sound, which was the best diving I have ever done! We dived alongside sheer underwater cliffs to 38m (PADI limits are 40m) and saw a very special black coral – that underwater looks white. These corals have been building their underwater forests in Milford for 200 million years.

You were part of a recent journey to the Antarctic onboard a NIWA research vessel. Can you tell us what living on board was like in those conditions?

NIWA’s flagship vessel, the Tangaroa is a multi-purpose research vessel designed to investigate New Zealand’s marine resources and environment. Inside the accommodation, you would never know you’re in Antarctica until you look out the window. It is toasty warm and the cooks aboard are known for their epic meals. With very limited internet/phone access and not seeing another ship for six weeks, it felt like our crew were completely isolated from the rest of the world. This isolation and extreme cold conditions meant we needed to prepare for any kind of emergency- so there was plenty of survival training before we left port and plenty of drills aboard. As we steamed south, each day got longer until we were experiencing 23 hours of daylight. Even then the sun didn’t fully set, instead skimming the horizon. This meant plenty of hours for whale watching and spotting icebergs!

As well as passive acoustic moorings, the “whale listening posts”, you also use physical oceanographic moorings & an ASL echosounder. Can you tell us the difference between these, what they measure and what you hope to achieve from the data recovered?

Passive acoustic moorings (PAM) take a bit of explaining, which will be easier to convey with pictures on Saturday. The physical oceanography moorings have a set of instrumentation on them recording physical properties (i.e. temperature, oxygen and salinity) that will help give an insight into how fresh water coming off the Ross Ice Shelf is interacting with our deep oceans. On the mooring is also some current meters that measure the strength and direction of water flow. The Ross Ice Shelf is particularly important as it is the largest freshwater reserve in Antarctica!
The ASL is an acoustic sounder that measures the amount of Antarctic krill in the water by sending and listening out for sound pings. These krill are a key food source for the Adelie Penguins that live on Cape Adare.

The voyage also focused on some of the tiniest organisms in the ocean – the phytoplankton and bacteria. Can you talk about how data on these is collected, and what it is for?

These amazing little organisms are collected using a CTD Rosette which has a bunch of bottles on it that allows us to collect water samples at different water depths. Several scientists worked hard to analyse phytoplankton and bacteria community structure across the Ross Sea. Although these organisms aren’t visible to our eyes, there are ridiculous amounts of them in the ocean and they are incredibly important. Phytoplankton produce around 70% of the air we breathe, I like to call them the humble trees of the ocean!

What was your favourite wildlife memory from your journey on the Tangaroa?

It is so hard to pick one as we saw a lot of beautiful animals! A moment I will never forget is when we reached the edge of the sea ice at dusk and saw multiple groups of Adelie penguins swimming and leaping into the ice for the night. I felt like I had jumped into a David Attenborough scene.

For more insights into Olivia’s work, join us at Eavesdropping Underwater: the Sounds of Whales and Dolphins on Saturday, May 25 at Te Papa!

Eavesdropping Underwater: an Interview with Giacomo Giorli!

Why do scientists eavesdrop on whales and dolphins? What can recordings of whale and dolphin sounds tell us? How do you even record the sound that these creatures make? And what’s it like to go to Antarctica?

Join us on Saturday, May 25 at Te Papa for a FREE talk by NIWA scientists Dr Giacomo Giorli and Olivia Price to hear the answers!

As part of the build-up to Eavesdropping Underwater, we interviewed Dr Giacomo Giorli about his role as a marine mammal acoustician. Dr Giorli’s work has taken him around the world, from studying dolphins in the Ligurian Sea to investigating predator-prey relationships in the waters of Hawaii. He has continued this work at NIWA, including involvement in a pioneering underwater sound project that recently gained national headlines.

What first drew you to oceanography?

Curiosity. I grew up close to the sea, and I was just curious about it.

What makes you most excited in your current job at NIWA?

The possibility to study many species in the Southern Ocean that we know almost nothing about, and the incredible amount of technology that we have at NIWA to conduct research.

You recently discovered clicks from unknown beaked whales in the Cook Strait. What would you like to do next to follow up this research?

That work was the result of a study conducted by all the researchers that authored the paper, and not just my “discovery”. It was a collaborative work. One important thing to note is that we did not discover unknown or new species of beaked whales (as many people always think). We recorded echolocation signals from beaked whales in Cook Strait that were not previously described in literature. We know the signals are from beaked whales, but we do not know what species of beaked whales are producing them. I guess a natural follow up to this research would be to identify the species that are using these sounds.

You’ve also studied the foraging behaviours of sperm whales and other toothed whales in Hawaii. What was it like completing this research, and what were the results?

That research is far from completed. In reality what I was studying in Hawaii was just the tip of the iceberg of deep sea predator-prey studies involving deep diving toothed whales. The toothed whale species studied in that research are species that dive very deep to search for food. They can dive deeper than 1 km. Because of this, it is essentially impossible to observe their behaviour directly. One can go in the African savanna and observe predator behaviour directly. Think about cheetahs hunting. We all are familiar with videos of cheetahs chasing impalas. What I want to point out is that when you have to deal with working in the deep ocean in general, making observations is incredibly challenging. We face the problem of observing how deep sea prey drives the distribution and behaviour of their predators.

In Hawaii, I tested new acoustic technology that would allow researchers to understand how prey availability and type could influence the behaviour of the deep diving predators (toothed whales). Data indicated that sperm whales, for example, foraged more where they had chances of finding larger prey, rather than where they had chances to find more prey. It seems counter-intuitive that they would rather go in a place where there is less potential prey. It suggests that these predators are somehow picky in choosing their prey.

As well as whales, your work also involves recording sounds from creatures as tiny as marine algae. What are the similarities and differences in working at these different scales?

The research I did on algae with my colleagues in the U.S. was a laboratory experiment. We did not go to sea. Algae do not have a sound generator like vocal cords. The sound is produced by oxygen bubbles that are expelled from the algal tissue during photosynthesis. However, the signal processing techniques we used to analyse the acoustic data are pretty much the same used for cetacean bio-acoustics research.

If money wasn’t a problem, what would be your ideal research project?

I guess the ideal research project in Marine Sciences is the one that ends well without failures of instrumentations and other things that can go wrong at sea.

For more insights into Dr Giorli’s work, join us at Eavesdropping Underwater: the Sounds of Whales and Dolphins on Saturday, May 25 at Te Papa!

New to the NZ Collection

This month the New Zealand Collection features history of Antarctica and also some great new and revised New Zealand history. This includes an item that focuses on teaching history to secondary school students. The last book is a study of issues faced by whānau in Māori education.

Syndetics book coverA history of Antarctica / Stephen Martin.
“This revised and expanded book – first published in 1996 – traces the patterns of human activity in Antarctica, from the southern journeys of the 16th century to the modern expeditions of adventurers and tourists. Using material from diaries, letters, and fresh research, the book illuminates the main themes of Antarctic history with the personal stories and images of the men and women who explored, worked, and lived in this frozen and remote continent. The book examines such topics as the early Polynesian explorers, the amazing diversity of flora and fauna, the detailed geological features, etc. A History of Antarctica is about the people of Antarctica – those who have chosen to endure the risks and enjoy the rewards of conquering the world’s most forbidding land.”(Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSurveying the Antarctic : the New Zealand Geological Survey Antarctic Expedition 1957-1958 / Eugene Brian Fitzgerald.
“This volume is the story of the first New Zealand Official Government Expedition to Antarctica. It is based on the diary, notes and memory of the author, together with the letters and accounts written by other members of the expedition.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverImages from Albertland : Harold Marsh, 1876-1948 / Paul Campbell.
“William Harold Marsh, farmer, father and adventurous photographer captured a time of enchantment, when life was lived at a slower place, governed by a different set of values and priorities and ambitions. One of the first generation of those immigrants who sailed around the world to settle in Albertland, 70,000 coastal acres on the Kaipara Harbour, in Northland, New Zealand, he has left a legacy of those times, a window into the past for those yet to come.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Heaphy Track / Chris Petyt.
“Heaphy he never actually followed the whole route. He along with Thomas Brunner and Kehu, their Maori guide, travelled down the coast in 1846 from the north and only traversed the coastal section of the track from the Heaphy River to the Kohaihai River. The first Europeans to traverse the route are only recorded as “Aldridge and his mate”. Following the discovery of gold in the Aorere Valley in late 1865, the route of the Heaphy Track was used by gold miners to traverse between the Aorere Goldfield and those that were subsequently discovered on the West Coast. Author Chris Petyt has dug deep and wide to assemble this first comprehensive account of the human history of the Heaphy Track. Today, the Heaphy is one of New Zealand’s premier walking tracks and the longest of the multi-day tracks designated by the Department of Conservation as Great Walks. Those contemplating a trip over the track will also find it useful as the final chapter is a guide to walking the track.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTurning points : events that changed the course of New Zealand history / Paul Moon.
“Historian Paul Moon has chosen 20 events that have shaped the course of New Zealand history over the years. The events are described and illustrated with photographs drawn from the archives, and Moon outlines how New Zealand history has changed as a result”–Publisher’s information.

Syndetics book coverThe story of a treaty / Claudia Orange.
“The Treaty of Waitangi is a central document in New Zealand history. This lively account tells the story of the Treaty from its signing in 1840 through the debates and struggles of the nineteenth century to the gathering political momentum of recent decades. The second edition of this popular book brings the story up to the present”–Back cover.

Syndetics book coverGreater Māori Auckland / David Simmons ; including the Māori place names of Auckland, collected by George Graham.
“Traditional tales of the Auckland isthmus and wider region. The author extends his original Maori Auckland (1987), to include the broad regions north and south.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHistory matters : teaching and learning history in New Zealand secondary schools in the 21st century / Michael Harcourt and Mark Sheehan, editors.
“History Matters reflects the dynamic nature of teaching and learning history in New Zealand secondary classrooms. It demonstrates not only the wealth of enthusiasm and expertise within the history teaching community,but also a commitment by teachers to developing a research literature on historical thinking that is `for teachers and by teachers¿. The book bridges the gap between theory and practice among history teachers and contributes to the sorts of questions that teachers are currently addressing as they seek to improve our understanding of what it means to teach history in New Zealand in the second decade of the 21st century.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKia puāwaitia ngā tumanako : critical issues for whānau in Māori education / Jessica Hutchings … [et al.].
“This report presents the findings of a kaupapa Maori research project called Critical Issues for Whanau in Maori Education. We asked a variety of whanau the question: What sorts of educational research would be of benefit to your children and whanau in education? The aim was to use the whanau responses to refine a Maori-led and whanau-informed research agenda for Te Wahanga. Whanau are integral to the educational wellbeing of Maori students. Yet little educational research has been done with an explicit whanau focus. This research aimed to help fill the gap. We used the kaupapa Maori approach of whanaungatanga and the method of korero a-whanau to work directly with whanau in ways that upheld their integrity and authority. Korero a-whanau ensures the voices and day to day experiences of whanau in education are heard. It acknowledges their diverse priorities and aspirations. Three overarching themes connected the many issues raised by whanau. These are Nga Moemoea (whanau aspirations), Rangatiratanga (whanau autonomy and authority) and Te Reo Rangatira (learning and maintenance of reo Maori)” (Syndetics summary)